We often hear about folks from the same area bumping into each other when they’re traveling. Regardless of how many times this happens, it’s still a surprise, these chance meetings stateside and abroad, be they at a castle, hiking a wilderness trail or sunning on the deck of a cruise ship.

Recently happenstance turned hysterical for two couples from Washington who were visiting Great Britain, Dr. David and Diane Brunworth and Elmer and Patty Kellmann. Their paths kept crossing like rural Irish signposts, in a scenario that’s positively laughable.

A family wedding in the Lake District prompted the Brunworths to make a two-week trip to the United Kingdom, their first visit there. They left the United States on May 13, toured London and then set off for the Lake District in England with Diane’s three brothers and their wives. Rather than renting a van, the group used public transportation, the Tube, and trains and buses, which they found clean and efficient; they couldn’t have been more pleased.

After the wedding the Brunworths, minus one couple from their original group, took a ferry to Ireland to do some sightseeing, beginning in Dublin. Once there they visited Trinity College and viewed the ancient Book of Kells, which is when the trip took a novel turn.

While strolling the grounds at Trinity, the Brunworths were recognized by a hometown gal, Patty Kellmann from Washington. She and her husband Elmer, and a couple of friends from Chicago, had just arrived in Ireland for a two-week visit. The Kellmanns were patients of Dr. Brunworth before he retired last October, but other than seeing him in the office, the couples hadn’t run into each other around town.

Pleasantries were exchanged. Then the two groups split off to do their own thing, wishing each other well.

Now Dublin is a city of 1.2 million-plus, with pubs on every corner. Almost straight across Ireland is another large city, Galway, equally peppered with pubs and restaurants. You guessed it.

Two days after the Dublin meeting, the Brunworth and Kellmann groups were shocked to see each other again in McSwiggans, a Galway pub.

That coincidence kind of tipped Diane off — she talked to Patty and found out they were both using a Rick Steves guidebook for their trips, counting on the travel guru to direct them to the most scenic locales and best spots to eat and drink. In fact the next day’s plans for both groups was a visit to Inishmore, one of the Aran Islands about a two-hour ferry ride from Galway.

They bid each other good evening, saying they’d see each other on the ferry. But the little people of Ireland weren’t quite finished with their shennigans. Later that night, both groups ended up at the same pub to hear some traditional Irish music.

The third time’s a charm in the United States and the United Kingdom too. Once they got to Inishmore the groups hired a van and driver to take them around the island. Of course these vehicles can only handle so many, and initially the driver said their combined group was too big, but he was happy to negotiate with Patty, and accommodate the 10 travelers by setting some milk crates up in the aisles for them to sit on. Seat belts were nonexistent, Diane said, but at that point fate was smiling on all of them like a pair of Irish eyes.

The groups didn’t run into each other again, but perhaps only because the Brunworths had to hurriedly head for home. After spending the day on the island, they took the ferry to Galway, then a night-train to Dublin for their flight home. The Kellmanns stayed in Ireland for another week, and didn’t run into another person they knew.

We’ll have to see if Sparky and I do. We’re off to the United Kingdom for a stay in Wales and Devon, England. The only faces we plan on recognizing are some cousins in North Wales. But who knows? I once was walking near a Welsh town and met a man with the last name of Preece, which is my mother’s maiden name. Coincidences abound.